Yamuna is a sacred river in
Hinduism and the main tributary of the
Goddess Ganga (Ganges), the holiest river of Hinduism. The river is
worshipped as a Hindu goddess called Yamuna. In the Vedas, Yamuna
is known as Yami, while in later literature, she is called Kalindi.
In the Vedas, Yami is associated with her twin brother and partner
Yama, the god of death. Later, she is associated with the god Krishna
as one of Ashtabharya, his consort as well and plays an important
role in his early life as a river. Bathing and drinking Yamuna's
waters is regarded to remove sin.
2 Family and names
3 Vedic association with Yama
4 Puranic association with Krishna
5 Religious significance
Yamuna's iconographic depiction is seen on temple doorjambs, along
with that of
Ganga (the goddess of the Ganges), since the Gupta
Agni Purana describes Yamuna's iconography. She is
depicted as black in complexion and stands on her mount, the tortoise,
holding a water pot in her hand. In an ancient painting she is
shown as a beautiful maiden standing on the banks of the river.
Family and names
Yamuna is described as the daughter of the sun god
Surya (though some
say that she was the daughter of Brahma) and his wife
in later literature), the goddess of the clouds, and the twin sister
of Yama, the god of death. Her other brothers include Vaivasvata Manu,
the first man and the twin Ashvins, divine doctors. and the
planet Saturn (Shani).She is described as Surya's favourite child.
As the daughter of Surya, she is also called as Suryatanaya, Suryaja
As a companion of Yama,
Yamuna is often called Yami in the Vedas.
Yama/Yami probably originates the
Sanskrit word meaning twins of both
sexes. In later literature, she is known as
Yamuna and Kalindi
("the dark one").
A tale explains her name Yamuna: Sanjna was unable to bear her
husband, the sun's heat and light and closed her eyes in his presence.
Surya felt insulted and said that their son will be known as Yama
("restraint"), due to the restraint she showed. Thereafter, Sanjna
tried her best to keep her eyes open, however she flickered them
Surya again who proclaimed that her daughter would be Yamuna.
Since Sanjna had tried to keep the eyes open,
Yamuna was blessed that
she would worshipped as a goddess and remembered throughout time.
Krishna defeats Kaliya, dwelling in the Yamuna.
The name Kalindi may be derived from her association with Yama, the
Lord of death and darkness as Kala. Another source suggests that
she derives the name Kalindi from her "earthly" source, the mountain
Kalinda. Some legends also explain Yamuna's darkness and thus her
name Kalindi. The
Vamana Purana narrates the tale how the originally
clear waters turned black. Distraught by the death of his wife Sati,
Shiva wandered the whole universe. The god of love
Kamadeva shot Shiva
with the arrow Unmadastra, that made
Shiva restless and excited. Ever
thinking of Sati, an excited
Shiva jumped into
Yamuna to overcome the
sexual urge in his mad frenzy, turning her waters into black by his
sorrow and unfulfilled desire. Another legend describes that
Krishna defeated and banished the serpent
Kaliya in the Yamuna. While
the dark serpent entered the waters, the river became dark.
Vedic association with Yama
Yami was the first woman, along with her twin brother,
Yama in Vedic
Yama and Yami are a divine pair of creator deities.
Yama is depicted as the Lord of Death, Yami is said to be the
Lady of life.
Yami also addresses a hymn to
Yama in the Rig Veda, describing various
drinks offered to dying sacrificers in the after-life. The Brahmana
Taittiriya Samhita says that
Agni (fire) and Yami is the
earth. Yami is thus further described as an association with the
earth, relating her to the goddess of graveyards and sorrow, Nirriti,
another partner of
Yama in the Vedas. In the Brahmanas; however
retains the central role of being Yama's twin sister in the Samhita
texts. In the
Purushamedha rite in the Shatapatha Brahmana, a mother
of twins is sacrificed to Yami, while twins are offered in the
Brahmana text Maitrayani Samhita narrates: As the partner of Yama,
Yami grieved instantly the death of Yama, the first mortal to die. As
there was continuously daytime at the start of creation, Yami was
unable to understand the lapse of time since Yama's death. The gods
created night separating two days so that Yami understood that time
was passing and slowly recovered from her sorrow. The concept
of the pair of twins with The festival of Bhau-beej, celebrated by a
brother and a sister, honours the divine siblings. A prayer recited by
the sister to her brother requests him to enjoy her offerings of food
and eat them to please
Yama and Yamuna.
deviyamuna statue in Amirthakadeswarar Temple, Sakkottai
Puranic association with Krishna
The river is called
Yamuna and the goddess generally Kalindi in
sources related to Krishna. She is also, according to some sources, a
form of Nila Devi.
Krishna being carried over
Vasudeva just after his birth.
In an myth related to Krishna's birth, Krishna's father
carrying the new-born
Krishna to safety was crossing the
Yamuna to make a way for him to cross the river, which she
did by creating a passage. This was the first time that she saw
Krishna whom she marries in later life.
Yamuna wanted to touch the
feet of the baby which she did at deeper depths of the river and as a
result the river became very calm.
Krishna also spent most of youth in
Vrindavan on the banks of Yamuna,
playing the flute and playing with his lover
Radha and the gopis on
the banks. It is said that Kalindi fell in love with Him as she saw
His Eternal love with Radha.
Bhagavata Purana narrates: Once, an adult
Krishna visited his
cousins – the five
Pandava brothers with their common wife Draupadi
and their mother
Kunti in their capital
Delhi), located on the banks of the Yamuna. The eldest Pandava
Krishna to stay with them for a couple of days.
Krishna and the middle
Arjuna go for hunting in the
forest. During their hunting,
Arjuna was tired. He and
Krishna went to
Yamuna and bathed and drank the clear water. There, a lovely girl
was strolling along the river bank.
Krishna who saw her and asked
Arjuna to meet her to know who she was. When
Arjuna inquired, the girl
told him that she was Kalindi, the daughter of Surya, and that she was
living in a house constructed by her father in the river where she has
been was performing austerities with intent to have
Vishnu as her
husband and would remain there, until she finds him.
Kalindi's message to Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, who readily agreed
to marry the beautiful damsel. Then they traveled to
Kalindi in the chariot and met Yudhishthira. After a stay of few days
Krishna and Kalindi returned to his capital
Dwarka with their
entourage and duly married each other. According to
Bhagavata Purana she had ten sons: Shruta, Kavi, Vrsa, Vira, Subahu,
Bhadra, Santi, Darsa, Purnamasa and the youngest, Somaka. The
Vishnu Purana mentions that she had many sons headed by Shruta.
Bhagavata Purana also narrates: Krishna's elder brother Balarama
was staying in Ambadi on Yamuna's banks for a few months. Once, he was
frolicking with the gopis on the river banks and desired to play in
the waters. Intoxicated with liquor and experiencing heat of the
Balarama felt to take a bath in the river. However, he
refused to walk to the waters and called upon the river to come near
him, but the chaste
Yamuna refused despite repeated orders from
Balarama. An angry
Balarama dragged the river by his weapon – the
plough and changed its course, hurting the river goddess. Terrified,
the river assumed her form as a goddess and bowed to
asked his forgiveness. A calmed
Balarama ordered the river to flood
the forest so he could bathe and play in her waters, and the river
A temple dedicated to
Yamunotri on the banks of the river
Yamuna is one of the holiest rivers in Hinduism.
Yamuna is only second
Ganges (Ganga), the holiest river in Hinduism. Her
confluence with the
Ganges and the mythical Sarasvati rivers, Triveni
Sangam, is very holy pilgrimage spot. Other pilgrimage sites along
the river banks include Yamuna's source Yamunotri,
Yamuna being one of the 7 tributaries of the
Ganges. Drinking its waters is described to absolve sin. The river is
mentioned many times in the epic as backdrop for events like yajnas
(sacrifices), austerities and even a suicide by a defeated minister
Hamsa of Jarasandha.
Puranas narrate the greatness of bathing in the Yamuna. The
Padma Purana narrates the story of two brothers, who lived a life of
indulgence and lust and gave up the virtuous ways. They finally
plunged in poverty and resorted to robbery and were killed by beasts
in the forest. Both of them reached Yama's court for judgement. While
the elder brother was sentenced to Naraka (hell), the younger was
granted Svarga (heaven). Astonished, the younger brother asked the
reason for it, as both lived similar lives.
Yama explained that the
younger brother had lived in the ashram of a sage on Yamuna's banks
and bathed in the sacred river for two months. The first month
absolved him of sins and the second one granted him place in
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^ a b c Mani p. 894
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^ a b c Bhattacharji 1998, p. 11.
^ Bhattacharji 1970, p. 108.
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^ a b Bhattacharji 1970, p. 96.
^ Bhattacharji 1970, p. 98.
^ a b Veena Shekar. "The'Ashta Bharyas' of Krishna".
^ Sri Swami Vishwananda (February 2012). Just Love 3. BoD – Books on
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^ "Five Ques married by Krishna". Krishnabook.com. Retrieved 25
^ Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 10 Chapter 58. Vedabase.net. Retrieved on
^ "The Genealogical Table of the Family of Krishna". Krsnabook.com.
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